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Posts Tagged ‘The Shelter Pet Project’

Dear Pet Owner: Can you Handle the Truth?

May 3, 2010 6 comments

Recently, I read a book review written on Amazon.com about Randy Grimm’s book, Don’t Dump the Dog: Outrageous Stories and Simple Solutions to Your Worst Dog Behavior Problems (it’s the first review listed, written by Charlie S from Wag’N Book Review).

In case you’ve never heard of Randy Grimm, Randy is a famous animal advocate and animal rescuer from St Louis, Missouri. He runs Stray Rescue of St Louis, where he has been actively involved in saving the lost, abandoned and stray dogs that roam the streets of St Louis. Quite a man in my opinion. But, that’s not what caught my eye, it was the reviewer’s description of a section of Chapter 1 of Randy’s book,

“An owner contacts Randy wanting to relinquish his dog because of (a) hyper-activity issue. The owner comes by the shelter on a day where Randy is alone at the shelter, clearly overwhelmed by work, and (Randy) asks the pet owner to answer the phone while he brings the “abandoned pet” to its new home – (A) cage. While there, the owner takes many dramatic calls covering a few ‘real emergencies’. When the owner gets a break, he drops the phone, runs back, frees his dog, gets another dog and runs out of the facility. The owner realized that the issue he deemed terrible was nothing compared to the realities shelters have to deal with. He later sent money to the shelter to thank them of the invaluable knowledge he acquired that day.”

Pets are often surrendered for legitimate reasons, especially now, with many people losing their homes. But, just as often people surrender their pet simply because they didn’t take the time to train their dog, do their homework before getting their pet or made a hasty decision to get a pet because it was “so cute”.

It got me to thinking… would pet parents be less likely to surrender their pets for a frivolous reason, or at the very least, would they think twice before surrendering their pet if they knew the truth about what could happen to their pet?

For instance…

– A surrendered pet may go home with someone that will not treat him as well as the previous owner did. There is no way to know which adoptive pet parents will be good ones unless you do a home visit, and most shelters can barely afford to stay open so that is usually not an option. It’s a sad commentary on how we humans treat our pets when a dog or cat comes back to the shelter in worse condition than when they left.
– An overcrowded shelter means that a pet could be euthanized, especially if the pet is old, sick, has behavioral issues, or just plain runs out of time. According to the Humane Society of the United States and The Shelter Pet Project, approximately three million (3,000,000) healthy and treatable pets are euthanized every year because they don’t get adopted.
– Sometimes a sick pet (e.g., Parvo virus) is surrendered to a shelter and infects all the other pets in the shelter. Someone’s pet could die before it reaches the adoption floor, unless it’s vaccinations were kept up-to-date.
– Many shelter environments are loud. The noise level can be enough to damage human ears and it can drive a dog nuts. Literally. It’s called going “kennel crazy”.
– Just because a dog lived inside it’s last owner’s home doesn’t mean that will be the case when he is adopted. Chances are that he could be tied up outside.
– Training and socializing a pet is important. It makes them more adoptable.
– Adopting a dog or cat saves a life. Buying from a backyard breeder or puppy mill ensures that one less dog or cat will find a loving home.

I don’t want anyone to think I am disparaging animal shelters. Let’s be honest, without them and other rescue organizations, many more animals would be roaming the streets and suffering at the hands of an abuser.

The people who work in shelters are some of the most dedicated, hard-working and loving people I know. And, most of the people who adopt from an animal shelter are great people. I’ve seen and heard some really great, heart-warming stories about dogs and cats that have found their forever homes and are loved completely by their new families.

But, the reality is there is no guarantee that your pet will find a loving home. When you decided to get a pet, you took on the responsibility for that pet. Don’t you owe it to him to make sure that you’ve tried everything before you give him up?

Adopted Cats and Dogs: To rename or not?

January 6, 2010 26 comments

Being a volunteer at an animal shelter, I see a lot of dogs and cats. I also see a lot of interesting dog and cat names. Some of them are REALLY interesting! Either way, I’m always interested in the names people give their pets. It’s fun to find out the story behind their names.

I think what always surprised me was when people would rename a dog or cat after they adopted them. I’ve always believed that I should let my newly adopted dog or cat keep its given name (especially when the dog or cat came from another home) because it seemed less confusing for them. Since they were already adjusting to a new home and a new owner, the last thing I wanted to do was make them adjust to a new name too. Thus, my cats,Nick and Sebastian, kept their names as did Indy, Aspen and Daisy. Jasper (and his sister, Jasmine) I named myself because they had come from a pet store and were never given names.

But, I know that my opinion is only that, mine. I’d be interested in hearing what others think. Did you change your dog or cat’s name after you adopted him or her? If so, why? What name did you change it to? Is there a story behind your dog or cat’s new name? I’d love to hear it!

As a side note, MSNBC recently published the Most Popular cat and dog names of 2009. They also published the Most Unusual dog and cat names. Pretty interesting stuff. Check it out!

‘Tis the Season… To Get Rid of Your Pet?

December 15, 2009 Leave a comment

Appalled by the title? Me too.

Unfortunately, this is the time of year when people find they can no longer afford their pets or don’t have the time to dedicate to caring for them, and end up bringing them to the local animal shelter. So, at one of the most family-focused times of the year, these dogs and cats (through no fault of their own) find themselves looking for a new home. A home where someone will love them and care for them and in some cases, train them.

I was walking dogs this past weekend at the shelter I volunteer at and saw so many worthy dogs that deserved a second chance at a home. I saw two Golden Retrievers under 2 years of age who look to be purebred but were given up because their owners had no time – just imagine the potential of these dogs if someone had the time!

I saw so many little dogs… Rat Terriers, a Dachshund and even a Cocker Spaniel – all looking for new homes because their owners were moving and could not take them with them. So many people want little dogs to cuddle with at home. How much better would it be to give a dog a home that needs one desperately? How awesome would it feel to know you rescued a dog who due to the economy ended up at a shelter (not because their owner didn’t love them and care for them, but because financial circumstances forced them to give up their pet)?

I don’t know about other shelters or rescue organizations, but we are full up at our shelter. And, the kicker is most of these dogs are there due to financial circumstances not because of behavior problems.
So, unfortunately… ‘Tis the Season.

God bless our soldiers and the dogs they leave behind…

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment

If you’ve been on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube in the past week then you’ve likely seen the video of a dog welcoming it’s owner back home. In this case, the owner is a soldier returning from a stint in Afghanistan. The dog cries after realizing her owner is finally home. A very touching video. It certainly brought tears to my eyes.

Today, I saw the rest of the story as reported in the LA Times. I encourage you to read it. In the article, Captain Andrew Schmidt reminds us that our servicemembers are still serving in the Mideast and should not be forgotten. He also talked about the “virtues of pet adoption” and told how Gracie (the dog in the video) was adopted by the Schmidt family just one day before she was scheduled to be euthanized. He also said “she’s been the best dog and a vital part of our family for the past five years.”

It’s easy to remember our soldiers during the holidays. The media covers them more at this time of year than any other. But, we need to keep them in our minds every day. And, while we are at it, let us not forget the families and dogs they leave behind.

And one additional note: Shelter dogs can be some of the most loyal and loving pets you could ever hope to have in your life. Gracie is proof of that.

Dogs: Adopt Me Please! The Shelter Pet Project

November 6, 2009 2 comments

42-17304144Anyone who knows me, or has read my blog to any extent, knows that I am passionate about animals. But, I am also passionate about something else… animal adoption.

A lot of people assume that adopting a dog or cat from a shelter means that they will be adopting a pet with physical problems or behavioral issues. This could not be further from the truth! Most of the dogs I have worked with at the shelter over the past 7 years have been wonderful and loving dogs. And, most of them were at our shelter due to circumstances outside of their control… home foreclosure, job loss, an owner’s death, an illness in the family, divorce, etc.

I know it’s hard to believe, but most pets are NOT in a shelter because their owner found them to be an awful pet. And yet, somehow the image still persists that adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue organization somehow means that the pet is “flawed” in some way.

The first dog I ever adopted from a shelter was a Shepherd/Collie mix named Indy. Read more…

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